Suffredin- For a Better Cook County  
 

Accountability
Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine

 

   
 
   
   
 
   
     
  Office phone numbers:  
   
 
 

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

   
 

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

   
  Cook County is the second most populous county in the nation. It is the 19th largest government in the U.S.
   
     
     
     



Proposed health oversight shift not a ‘power grab,’ Cook County officials say
Toni Preckwinkle today defended new proposals to give her more control over the Health & Hospitals System. "It seems like the proposal is moving in the opposite direction of the success that the county and independent health board has achieved," one critic said.

Thursday, January 16, 2020
Crain's Chicago Business
by A.D. Quig

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said new proposals to give her and the Cook County Board more oversight of the Cook County Health and Hospitals System do not amount to a power grab.

“This is about communication, accountability and transparency,” she repeated multiple times, to different questions about her motivations. She noted that commissioners who served in 2008, when a political and financial crisis led to the creation of an independent board to oversee the health system, are co-sponsors of the proposals.

“We want to be sure that there’s mandated communication between the Health and Hospital System board” and the county, Preckwinkle said. “The board of course, is responsible for significant taxpayer infusions into our health and hospitals system, more than $100 million a year. We want to be sure that we have an opportunity to be made aware of what’s happening in the Health and Hospitals System in a different level than has been the case in the past.”

But she alluded to “budgetary challenges” as part of the impetus and a lack of transparency from the hospital system. One example: Preckwinkle said she “only recently became aware” of severance packages offered to senior health system employees.

The Chicago Tribune reported former CEO Dr. Jay Shannon will receive $542,000 in severance pay and health insurance benefits, on top of his pension from his service as a physician at the health system for close to three decades.

Such arrangements are “very common recruitment and retention tools in healthcare,” CCH spokeswoman Caryn Stancik said.

Commissioner Larry Suffredin (D-13) said roughly 50 other employees at the health system have severance packages. One of the proposals would rein in the size of severance packages to align with a 2019 state law that limits those packages for public employees to 20 weeks. He described Shannon’s severance as “outrageous and disgraceful.”

“This is a transparency and accountability issue,” Preckwinkle said.

Rising costs of uncompensated care were another driver.

“We’ve got to figure out how to deliver high quality care in an environment in which our two hospitals, Provident and Stroger, provide about half of the entire amount of charity care delivered in Cook County,” Preckwinkle said. That, and bad debt are “a tremendous challenge.”

The proposed structural changes, made in the wake of CEO Jay Shannon’s dismissal and first reported by WBEZ, were introduced at Thursday’s Cook County Board meeting and were referred to committee for later debate and consideration.

Laurence Msall, the President of the Civic Federation, expressed concern about the changes. His organization is one of several that offers nominees to the health system's board. "It seems like the proposal is moving in the opposite direction of the success that the county and independent health board has achieved. The independent Cook County Health board is actually one of the most diligent government boards in our region. Its members represent a wide range of areas and has been very capable of managing and governing decisions related to the healthcare system through some of the most difficult financial and political challenges facing healthcare not just at the county but across the country in the public and private sector."

Under the changes, Preckwinkle would have a direct appointment to the CCH’s independent board, bringing the count up from 11 members to 12. The next CEO would be appointed on the “advice and consent of the County Board” and with collaboration from Preckwinkle and her administration. That future CEO’s “salary, termination, term, severance and any contract bonus provisions” would also be subject to review and approval from the board.

Hill Hammock, CCH’s board chair, said “Cook County Health has worked with the President’s Office on the proposed amendments to the enabling ordinance. We look forward to the committee hearing and approved language that will result in a stronger health system with the Cook County Board of Commissioners, our independent governing board and health system leadership working together.”

“I don’t think it’s a power grab,” said Suffredin, who helped lead the charge to create an independent board in 2008. Instead, it’s a “clarification of what we’re designating to them and the authority we’re granting to them to run the system.”

The health system has seen three major changes since 2008 that necessitate the shift, Suffredin says: First, the advent of CountyCare, Cook County’s Medicaid managed care organization. While it’s been a “significant boon” it’s also a “complicated business,” that has taken adjusting. Second, the system faces stiffer competition from other safety net hospitals post-Affordable Care Act. Third: a crop of new Cook County Board members are “asking a lot of questions that are good and legitimate.”

The system’s mission is to accept all patients, regardless of their ability to pay, but it is facing rising uncompensated care costs from charity care and bad debt. Hospital officials estimate the total number will be roughly $590 million in 2020. After a dramatic drop in uninsured patients since the start of the Affordable Care Act, the number of uninsured patients visiting county facilities has been on the rise since 2016.

“Those things have caused us to need to sit down and re-analyze the powers we have to ensure we get quality resources to people and we’re fiscally competent in what we’re doing,” Suffredin said.

What’s to stop hospitals from returning to patronage days? County officials say hiring is still subject to Shakman federal hiring guidelines.

A new CEO might not be in place until mid-year. The health system board has hired the firm Heidrick & Struggles to help with the search.



Recent Headlines

Can courts do more to force FOID card violators to give up their guns?
Monday, February 17, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Keep the Cook County Health board independent
Sunday, February 16, 2020
Crain's Chicago Business

Park Ridge looks to move 911 dispatching services to Cook County call center
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Editorial: A report’s flaws suggest: Cook County bail reforms may have endangered the public
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Offering rehab instead of jail time, ‘Drug Court’ gives some a second chance
Thursday, February 13, 2020
WGN News

Preckwinkle aide barred from her offices after sexual harassment incident
Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Crain's Chicago Business

New outreach group combating Cook County’s opioid crisis by offering treatment, hope
Tuesday, February 11, 2020
WGN News

Evanston Officials Eye County Grant for Construction of New Animal Shelter
Monday, February 10, 2020
Evanston RoundTable

CTA to spend $38 million studying Red Line extension
Monday, February 10, 2020
Chicago Tribune

In Illinois — the Prairie State — little prairie land remains. But work is being done to save what’s left in Cook County and restore more.
Thursday, February 06, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Brookfield Zoo chief heads for the exits
Thursday, February 06, 2020
Crain's Chicago Business

Suspect in weekend killing of Cook County inmate accused of beating another detainee in November attack captured on video
Wednesday, February 05, 2020
Chicago Tribune

MacArthur grants Cook County another $2.5 million for criminal justice reform
Wednesday, February 05, 2020
Crain's Chicago Business

Property tax hikes won’t be that bad, new report says
Wednesday, February 05, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

MacArthur Foundation donates $2.5 million to Cook County Criminal Courts
Wednesday, February 05, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Improvements planned for Green Bay Road in Evanston as part of long-term project
Tuesday, February 04, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Cook County judicial candidate Arthur Sutton has history of disciplinary issues
Tuesday, February 04, 2020
Injustice Watch

Area legislators dish on policy plans that impact seniors
Tuesday, February 04, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Pappas and other Cook County, Chicago and federal elected officials urge residents to return the 2020 Census questionnaire
Monday, February 03, 2020
Daily Herald

Plans for new Provident Hospital paused
Monday, February 03, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.
^ TOP